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squash a softgel because it didn't get made properly. I never wanted want to use a pulverizer. "People said 'Forget it. You're going to get between 2 and 5 percent of your batches that you'll have to pul- verize and reclaim them and try to do it again.' We just felt like that was- n't the case. We felt we could do it differently, do it better, and manage our operation more effectively." Helpful advice on the front end There are two facets to succeeding with softgels, Hatchett said: The front-end formulation—the shell itself and the internal formulation—and the operation of the line. "If you do it right on the front end, on the formu- lation side, you don't have to worry about things as much on the back end. Then it's a matter of making sure that the operators are trained properly on the process and that they set up the operation correctly. Although they're simple procedures, the devil truly is in the details and each detail adds up to making the perfect softgel." Wayne Lewis, owner of CapPlus Technologies, Phoenix, AZ, shared that outlook, Hatchett said. The two 34 September 2014 Tablets & Capsules Hard work on softgels pays off at Forever Living you look at consumer preferences. I've always been in trigued by them and the bio - availability aspect." While the com- pany doesn't farm fish or process fish oil, it's selective about doing business with the companies that do. "The ingredi- ent suppliers have to meet certain ver- ification, qualification, and validation processes before they can be part of our supply chain," Hatchett said. But the softgels were to be made in- house. Discouraging words unheeded With 23 years' experience in manu- facturing all types of dietary supple- ments, Hatchett wasn't new to soft- gels. Nonetheless, people discouraged him from bringing the operation in- house. "Everyone who's been in this business, right or wrong, told me 'Don't go near it. It's complicated and very finicky, and you have a lot of reclamation, a lot of scrap potential.'" But Hatchett, who had been exploring the idea off and on for a dozen years, thought the project could succeed if it was done right. "I've audited many softgel facilities in the United States and Canada and over in Asia to see what the best is. We didn't want to be just another manufacturing plant for softgels. We wanted to have world- class capabilities, and we wanted to do something that I didn't hear about much: I never wanted to have to The company's two softgel lines, anchored by encapsulators equipped with 10-inch roller dies, produce as many as 2 billion softgels annually. I N D U S T R Y a p p l i c a t i o n Since its founding in 1978, Forever Living Products International, Scottsdale, AZ, has focused on the health benefits of aloe vera and it incorporates the plant into a variety of dietary supplements, extracts, creams, and other health and per- sonal-care products. In addition to aloe vera, Forever Living offers prod- ucts that include bee pollen, berries, botanicals, natural oils, and many other natural minerals and nutrients. The multi-billion-dollar company, with more than 9.5 million distribu- tors, ships its products to more than 155 countries, and today its aloe vera operations are vertically integrated, meaning the company operates the farms, extraction facilities, and fin- ished-product manufacturing sites. Taking control of quality Vertical integration gives Forever Living unrivaled control over the quality of its core product and in - spired the company to seek more control over its other products, in - cluding its softgels. "We've had softgels for many, many years, including our Arctic-Sea product, which I feel is one of the best DHA-EPA [omega-3 fatty acid] formulations on the market," said Steve Hatchett, vice president of manufacturing and product innova- tion. "And after vertically integrating our entire aloe vera operation, we felt like it was time to take all of the qual- ity steps into our own hands with the softgels. They are one of the most elegant, commercially viable forms if

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